Fire Service Law Research Paper

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Fire Service Law

Consensus standards are developed by specific industries in order to set forth broadly accepted standards of care and operations for certain practices. Standards are an effort by the industry or profession to self-regulate by setting up minimal operating, performance, or safety standards, and they institute a recognized standard of care. They are written by consensus committees made up of industry representatives and other affected parties. The NFPA has a lot of standards which affect fire departments. The standards should be followed in order to protect fire and rescue personnel from needless workplace hazards and for the reason that they create the standard of care that may be used in civil lawsuits against fire and rescue departments (NFPA Standards, n.d.).

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In most instances, observance of NFPA standards is voluntary. Yet, in some cases, Federal or state OSHA agencies have included phrasing from NFPA standards into regulations. In these cases, the observance of the standards is obligatory. Despite whether compliance with an NFPA standard is voluntary or obligatory, fire and rescue departments must think about the impact of voluntary standards on private litigation. In some states, a department may be responsible for the careless performance of their duties. Even in states that guard rescue workers under an immunity statute, most state laws do not guard fire or rescue departments for grossly careless acts. In essence, negligence involves the violation of a standard of care that results in injury or loss to a person or organization. In establishing the standard of care for rescue operations, the courts will regularly look to the voluntary standards issued by NFPA and other organizations. Even though voluntary in name, these standards can become, in effect, the legally enforceable standard of care for fire or rescue department. For that reason, fire and rescue departments should pay close attention to appropriate standards (NFPA Standards for Fires Services, n.d.).

NFPA 1001: Standard on Professional Qualification for Firefighters

TOPIC: Research Paper on Fire Service Law Assignment

This standard identifies the minimum necessities for fire fighter candidates and for those at the Firefighter I and Firefighter II levels. This necessitates consciousness with specific actions, gear, and conditions outlined in the standard. This standard is utilized as the foundation for curriculum for Firefighter I and II courses (NFPA Standards, n.d.).

Putting in place a minimum training standard for Firefighter training like what is found in NFPA 1001 provides a foundation of training for entry level, career or volunteer firefighters. The NFPA 1001 standard identifies the minimum job performance requirements for career and volunteer fire fighters whose responsibilities are first and foremost structural in nature. The purpose of this standard is to make sure that people meeting the requirements of this standard who are engaged in firefighting are competent. It is not the intention of the standard to limit any jurisdiction from going beyond these necessities (NFPA 1001 Standards as Minimum Training Standard for Firefighters, 2011).

The use of this standard in several court decisions can be seen in the cases below.

IAFF Local 136 v. City of Dayton 157 Ohio App. 3d 236; 2004 Ohio 2728; 810 N.E.2d 457; 2004 Ohio App.

Defendants, the Dayton, Ohio, Civil Service Board, the Dayton, Ohio, City Commission, and ten individual city officials, appealed from the decision by the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court (Ohio) sustaining the motion of plaintiffs, firefighter and police unions and fifteen people, for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief.

Plaintiffs had challenged the fire diversity plan disseminated and about to be put into practice by defendants. Defendants claimed the trial court did not hold fast to the Ohio Supreme Court's decision in King v. Emmons, which broadly defined the key phrase competitive examination found in the civil service section of Ohio Const. art. XV, § 10. The appeals court found that as the Supreme Court had widened the scope of competitive examination to comprise other factors than scores on a written or oral examination, the same analysis had to apply to the Dayton, Ohio, City Charter, which stood in association as a constitution to the new and somewhat contentious civil service rules examined in the instant case. Defendants had power under the city charter to put into practice new rules through the Civil Service Commission to seek the goal of diversity in the city's departments following King. Defendants' second argument, that a failure to give security prohibited the case from meet the criteria as a taxpayer's action, was not addressed by the trial court, and the appeals court had banned a claim for a taxpayer's action when the taxpayers-plaintiffs did not post any security.

The first assignment of error was sustained and that part of the judgment of the trial court was reversed. The second assignment of error was overruled, and the decision of the trial court finding the action to be a proper taxpayer's suit was affirmed. The case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings as proper.

Columbus Civil Service Commission v. McGlone 82 Ohio St. 3d 569; 1998 Ohio 410; 697 N.E.2d 204; 1998 Ohio

Appellant city challenged a decision of the Court of Appeals for Franklin County (Ohio), which upheld a finding of discrimination toward appellee firefighter candidate because of his nearsightedness, but reversed the trial court on the remedy, finding that the remedy ordered by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission was supported by reliable, probative, and substantial evidence.

Appellee firefighter candidate failed the necessary vision test because his uncorrected vision was 20/100 rather than the required 20/40, so he was removed by appellant city from its eligibility list. Appellee filed a charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC), alleging that appellant had discriminated against him on the basis of a handicap, his visual impairment. The OCRC found discrimination, awarded back pay, and ordered appellant to offer appellee employment as a firefighter. Appellant sought judicial review. The trial court upheld the discrimination finding, but reversed the remedy. The appellate court affirmed the discrimination finding, but reversed on the remedy, holding that the OCRC remedy was supported by the evidence. On further appeal, the court reversed, finding that appellee was not handicapped by appellant under the former Ohio Rev. Code § 4112.01(A)(13) because his nearsightedness did not cause a considerable hardship in his everyday living and working, and appellee's vision did not disqualify from a class or wide range of jobs, only from one position. The court also concluded that there was no evidence that appellant perceived appellee as handicapped.

Judgment upholding a discrimination finding against appellant city and back pay and a job offer for appellee firefighter candidate was reversed because appellee's nearsightedness did not constitute a handicap under Ohio's handicap discrimination law where his ability to live and work on a day-to-day basis was not significantly impaired and he was not perceived as handicapped by appellant.

Pflanz v. City of Cincinnati 149 Ohio App. 3d 743; 2002 Ohio 5492; 778 N.E.2d 1073; 2002 Ohio App.

In an action for failure to accommodate a disability in violation or Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4112.02(a), plaintiff, a former city employee and firefighter, appealed the judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Hamilton County (Ohio) that granted summary judgment in favor of defendant city.

After being medically separated because of a back injury, the employee joined an internet discussion group, and made abusive remarks about the city fire department and the mayor. As a result, the fire department issued a hazard poster, warning other firefighters about letters and packages from the employee. After being granted workers' compensation benefits for a psychological condition which stemmed from his back injury that had led to his separation, and the hazard poster, the employee filed suit against the city for failure to accommodate his injury, as well as in vengeance for asserting his right to be accommodated. He also alleged federal and state claims relating to the hazard poster. The trial court granted the city's motion for summary judgment. The appellate court found that because lifting was not a major life activity under Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4112.01(A)(13), the employee's argument that he was considerably limited in the major life activity of lifting failed as a matter of law. Additionally, he failed to establish that a vacancy existed in a lot of positions elsewhere in the city, or that they were reasonable accommodations. The judgment was affirmed.

All three of these cases had to do with the law upholding the minimum standards that had been put into place by NFPA 1001: Standard on Professional Qualification for Firefighters. This standard has been put into place in order to make sure that those people who are hired to be firefighters are the most competent people available to do this job. The job leaves no room for incompetency due to its nature.

NFPA 1021: Standard on Fire Officer Professional Qualifications

This standard identifies the minimum job performance requirements necessary to perform the duties of a fire officer and particularly identifies four levels of progression (NFPA 1021: Standard for Fire Officer Professional Qualifications, 2011).

The use of this standard… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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